When you enter Mexico for a visit, vacation or extended stay, you should have your sunscreen, your camera and your auto insurance documentation.
Why the auto insurance? Because the nation has a relatively new law on the books. Beginning January 1, 2019, all vehicles on its federal highways must be properly insured, and the penalties aren’t insignificant.
The Right Insurance
These days, whenever you’re involved in an accident or other incident on a Mexican federal highway, officials are allowed to ask for your proof of insurance.
Every motorist is required to have, at a minimum, third-party liability coverage. In Mexico, this kind of insurance has two main components.
First, there’s bodily injury coverage. If you’re involved in a car accident and someone else (the third party) is injured, your insurance company will pay any medical expenses, up to the limit you choose, that stem from the crash.
Second, your insurer will cover the costs — again, within the chosen limit — of the property damage caused by the accident. That includes harm to vehicles as well as to walls, fences, buildings or anything else that was affected.
To be more precise, your insurance plan must cover a minimum of 50,000 pesos in property damage costs and 100,000 pesos in personal injury expenses. To really be safe, though, it’s wise to have a coverage limit of at least $300,000.
If you can’t show the authorities proof of insurance when they ask for it, expect to receive a fine. That penalty could be between 2,000 and 4,000 pesos.
An Incremental Rollout
In 2013, Mexico passed this insurance law. The Diario Oficial de la Federación (the Official Journal of the Federation), a government publication, notified the public of the new rule. The following September, the nation started enacting the regulation in a gradual way.
In 2014, the law only applied to a particular group of cars and trucks. They had to be worth at least 186,000 pesos, and they had to have been made after 2010. Each year after that, the rule encompassed a larger pool of vehicles.
Finally, as of January 1, 2019, the law is in full effect. Thus, it pertains to every driver and every vehicle on every Mexican federal highway.
Purchase Insurance Ahead of Time
The auto insurance you have in the U.S. or Canada almost certainly won’t cover you in Mexico. Thus, before departing, it’s in your best interested to buy a policy from a Mexican company with a strong business reputation. Outstanding examples include ABA Seguros, El Aguila Compañia de Seguros and Grupo Nacional Provincial (GNP).
How much will such a plan cost? Obviously, rates can vary greatly. Your premiums will depend on a variety of factors, including the length of your stay and your vehicle’s make, model and year. However, you can always search online for a free quote or to compare prices.
In Mexico, people often refer to liability insurance as a civic responsibility. That’s a useful way to think about it. By making sure that those who are involved in a car accident get the medical treatment and the repair work they need, you’re doing your part for society. And, because you’re protecting yourself and your assets, you can breathe easier as you cruise those highways and take in the scenery.